Stormy Daniels sues Donald Trump for defamation

At issue is Trump’s dismissal of a composite sketch that Daniels says depicts a man who threatened her to keep quiet over alleged affair

The actor in adult films who claims she had an affair with Donald Trump is escalating her legal fight, suing the president for defamation.

Related: Stormy Daniels lawyer predicts Michael Cohen will ‘flip’ on Trump

Continue reading…

Read more at The Guardian

Corey Lewandowski: The Chief of Staff Trump Wants

President Donald Trump is getting the gang back together—or at least he’d like to. He’s certainly well on his way to assembling the team he’s always envisioned.

He’ll have plenty of cover as he puts on the finishing touches: his frenemy speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, just last week hailed the president’s “darn good” cabinet following the installation of Mike Pompeo at the State Department and John Bolton at the National Security Council.

Ryan even went so far as to defend the beleaguered Ronny Jackson, now withdrawn from Veterans’ Affairs secretary, calling the allegations against the admiral potentially “baseless.”

Now the president can accomplish the coup de grace: installing Corey Lewandowski, his first campaign manager and continual confidante, as his chief of staff, sources familiar with the matter tell TAC.

All this was lost on most in last weekend’s shuffle—and the ensuing furor over comedian Michelle Wolf’s risible performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner.

But appearing with Trump at a political rally in Michigan on Saturday was none other than Lewandowski, who strikingly was called on by the president to address the crowd.

“Speaking of not being a patsy or a pushover,” the president told those gathered on Saturday night, “you ever watch Corey Lewandowski on the shows? Where’s Corey? Corey! And [Citizens’ United chief] David Bossie.”

Bossie is another Trump consigliere who could be formally ushered into the West Wing.

Trump waved Lewandowski on stage: “He only ran one campaign and he won. So he’s one for one.”

Lewandowski then declared: “This is Trump country! We love you Michigan! Thank you for supporting Donald J. Trump as…president of the United States. Thank you very much.”

Trump is famously allergic to sharing the spotlight with most anyone, but he has made some notable exceptions.

Those familiar with Lewandowski say that Trump summoning him was evocative of when he called onstage Reince Priebus, who would become chief of staff, during election night in 2016.

“Reince is really a star,” said the then-president-elect. “Say a few words.” Priebus at first resisted—“no, no, no”—but then, like Lewandowski, was brief and unctuous: “Ladies and gentleman, the next president of the United States.” Trump also hosted a similar political rally with James Mattis after naming Mattis to be his secretary of defense in December 2016.

A couple of factors are at play here.

First, the president doesn’t really want a chief of staff, not in any traditional sense. As Vanity Fair’s Gabe Sherman reported last week, he’s considering shuffling the incumbent, General John Kelly, over to the VA now that Jackson is out of the picture.

A source intimately familiar with Trump’s work style says the recent Cabinet reshuffle is true to form—he wants a rotating cadre of advisors who double as friends, with no central management to stop him. Hence Bolton and new chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow. As I’ve reported: “He’d have Seb Gorka back, if he could.”

Fox News host Lou Dobbs is another: Trump at one point wanted him on the National Economic Council. And while Kudlow eventually got the nod to head it instead, it’s been well-reported that Dobbs has been phoned into White House meetings by the president. With Kelly much diminished, expect more of this style of management.

The possible chief of staff opening is an excuse to finally give Lewandowski a job in the administration. Trump likely doesn’t have the stomach to leave the job empty: a source familiar with the White House informs me that it’s not worth the hysteria such a move would create in Washington. Yet Lewandowski’s return would also likely trigger a firestorm. It “would be insane,” a Trump confidante tells me.

But it would also be a boost to many of Trump’s oldest core supporters. “He should [get chief of staff]…I love Corey,” says a very prominent activist for Trump. On staffing generally, this source relays that the White House needs people who “inherently understand Trump.”   

With Lewandowski at the helm, the administration could replicate the outlaw, lean-and-mean, and almost start-up feel of Trump’s stunning primary campaign, which Lewandowski led until he was fired in June 2016. He has continued to serve as an unofficial media surrogate for Team Trump ever since.

There is a second advantage to having an old campaign hand onboard. Trump has declared his intention for re-election earlier than any modern president. Just last week, even old rival Ted Cruz endorsed his former foe.

Going forward, Lewandowski’s installation would set the tone for the emerging campaign. A veteran Democratic operative tells me he’s been hearing much the same.

It may seem unimaginable, but the United States is a half-year from the start of its next presidential campaign. Trump has already named a campaign manager, the digital whiz Brad Parscale. One Democrat, Congressman John Delaney, has quixotically declared a presidential run and, as of late April, visited 48 of 99 Iowa counties.

After the midterms in November, especially if the Democrats romp (which is plausible but not assured), a host of liberals will either declare or announce exploratory measures by Christmas. It’s almost certain to be the largest Democratic field in history—potentially exceeding the bulging 2016 Republican roster.

As Lewandowski declared pointedly in Michigan, a state that delivered this cohort to power: “This is Trump country.”

Buckle up.

Curt Mills is foreign affairs reporter at The National Interest, where he covers the State Department, the National Security Council, and the Trump presidency. 

Read more at The American Conservative

Don’t Fall for Netanyahu’s Propaganda

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has been a vehement opponent of the nuclear deal for years, and he has repeatedly made false alarmist claims about Iran’s ability to build nuclear weapons over the last two decades. Bear that in mind when you read this:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will make a televised announcement Monday evening (1700 GMT) in what his office said would be a “significant development” regarding the nuclear agreement with Iran.

The IAEA has verified Iranian compliance with the terms of the agreement ten times in a row, so it is very doubtful that the Israeli government has any relevant information about a “significant development” regarding the nuclear deal. Whatever Netanyahu announces later today should be viewed with extreme skepticism. Netanyahu has every incentive to lie about the nuclear deal right now to make sure that Trump reneges on it in two weeks, and coming on the heels of another Israeli attack on Iranian targets in Syria and Pompeo’s visit the timing of this announcement is more than a little suspicious. We should also remember that Israel has sometimes relied on spurious information from the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), the deranged totalitarian cult supported by John Bolton. It would not be a surprise if they were the ones to provide Netanyahu with the information he is going to use in his speech. Netanyahu’s announcement is practically guaranteed to be unfounded propaganda, and no one should fall for it.

Read more at The American Conservative

Pompeo and Israel’s Excessive and Illegal Use of Force in Gaza

During his visit to Jordan, Pompeo refused to criticize the shooting of unarmed protesters by Israeli forces:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sidestepped any criticism Monday of Israeli actions against Palestinians along the Gaza Strip border, saying only that “Israelis have the right to defend themselves.”

We already knew that the Trump administration won’t hold U.S. clients accountable when they commit outrages and crimes, but it is nonetheless remarkable how far administration officials will go to avoid criticizing even the most egregious violations. Instead, they make excuses for the clients’ crimes and call the unjustified use of force against unarmed people “self-defense.”

Israeli forces have shot more than 40 unarmed Palestinians dead and wounded over five thousand more in the last month. Many of the wounded have been shot in the legs, and some of those have been disabled for the rest of their lives:

During the past month of demonstrations along the border between Gaza and Israel, at least 17 Palestinians have suffered gunshot wounds that ultimately cost them their legs, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza.

In at least three of the cases, Israeli authorities rejected the transfer of wounded Gazans to the West Bank, where they could receive medical care that might have saved their limbs, according to lawyers and one of the patients’ families.

The protesters are driven to take these risks because of the horrible conditions in Gaza created by the blockade. Peter Beinart describes those conditions in a recent article:

But the actor with the greatest power over Gaza is Israel. Israeli policies are instrumental in denying Gaza’s people the water, electricity, education and food they need to live decent lives.

Over two million people suffer because of the blockade, and when some of them object to this appalling treatment they are maimed and killed with live ammunition. The blockade is an outrageous policy of collective punishment, and attacking the people protesting against the conditions created by the blockade is wholly unjustified. The U.S. ought to be calling for an end to both the shootings of protesters and the blockade, but unfortunately that isn’t going to happen under this administration.

Read more at The American Conservative

Trump suggests meeting Kim Jong-un at Peace House on North-South Korea border

Donald Trump suggested his planned meeting at the same site as Kim’s historic meeting last week with South Korea’s president

Donald Trump on Monday suggested his planned meeting with Kim Jong-un could take place at the Peace House on the border between North and South Korea, the same site as Kim’s historic meeting last week with South Korea’s president.

Related: ‘Sidelined’ China seeks to maintain influence as ties between North Korea and US improve

Continue reading…

Read more at The Guardian

Trump faces Guantánamo Bay decision that could undermine fight against Isis

  • Monday deadline for Mattis review on Cuba detention camp
  • Sending Isis prisoners could destroy legal basis for fight

Defense Secretary James Mattis has until end of play on Monday to produce new proposals for the future of the military detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, including the possibility of sending new captives to be held at the controversial base.

In January, Mattis was given a 90-day deadline to carry out a review of how military captives and terrorist suspects are handled. The deadline, 30 April, formed part of Trump’s executive order that instructed officials to keep Guantánamo open, overturning Barack Obama’s aim to close it.

Continue reading…

Read more at The Guardian

Central American asylum-seekers’ caravan forced to a halt

‘Stations of the Cross Caravan’ stopped at US border under wary eye of Trump administration

Nearly 200 Central American people who have been travelling north through Mexico for a month under the Trump administration’s watchful eye in attempt to seek asylum in the US were stopped in their tracks when border inspectors said that a crossing facility did not have enough space to accommodate them.

Trump vowed last week to stop the annual “Stations of the Cross Caravan”, while cabinet members said they would deliver a swift response. The asylum seekers held firm, setting up a possible showdown.

Continue reading…

Read more at The Guardian

Past The Tipping Point

Reader Mrs DK has a striking reaction to my post from the weekend about Philip Rieff and how the therapeutic culture is turning people fragile. She writes:

The truth in this, especially the quotes from Rieff, are enough to make me feel physically ill.

We did not BenOp with our kids. We had no sense that we needed to. We are middle class and know what it’s like to struggle just to stay afloat. We have been happily married for nearly a quarter century. Our kids were baptized in the Episcopal Church. I became Orthodox quite a few years ago, while the rest of my family are now “nones” of the agnostic variety.

We are close to our kids, who are now very young adults, and we can talk to them about even the difficult stuff. They are academically successful but have no interest in questioning what the mass media and pop culture is selling them. Depression, anxiety, the prevalent use of marijuana, and hook-ups outside of any established “relationship” are all taken for granted by them and their peers. We have a 19-year-old with rapid onset gender dysphoria who, with the help of supposed medical professionals, is on non-FDA-approved cross-sex hormones based on no medical diagnosis whatsoever.

I’m not that old — I’m Rod’s age. I know that depression, getting high, and sleeping around are not “new”. But something has changed. The center will not hold, is not holding now. When your autistic teen daughter suddenly says that she “feels like a guy” and all the other adults around her capitulate to this … when the government and the mainstream media in the US, UK, and Canada are pushing this gender ideology as an unquestioned good … You cannot avoid the realization that some tipping point has been reached.

It is hard to feel like a lone outpost of resistance, but thankfully I have found a small number of folks at work and, of course, in my Orthodox parish (which is really a BenOp parish) with the same concerns. Conservatives aren’t the only ones who are concerned, specifically about gender ideology. As Rod has pointed out, the lesbian moms and radical feminists in my rapid onset gender dysphoria support group (who knew even a few years ago that such a thing would be necessary??) are just as appalled by what is happening as I am — and are just as determined to fight it.

I would be interested in other reader observations and any advice they might have for situations like mine.

Constructive comments only, please. I’ll moderate this thread closely.

Read more at The American Conservative

GQ’s Pathetic Assault on Classic Literature

GQ magazine has news for us. Among the countless collections of ingenious tomes you absolutely, definitely must crack open before you expire, there are also, the editors tell us, “21 Books You Don’t Need to Read Before You Die.” The Great Books, it turns out, are largely “racist,” “sexist,” and “incredibly boring,” and the “un-boring” editors at GQ aren’t putting up with it anymore.

Now, on its face, tossing out undeserving “Great Books” is…well, great. Some things can safely be left in the dustbin of history. But if it is a sin to trash recyclables, it is likewise a sin to toss out Great Books before we’re certain they’re useless.

GQ, just as they’ve redesigned and redesigned their magazine, are ready to redesign “the classics,” hoping to attract men who favor critical theory over Christian theology and Play-Doh over Plato. Who, in the era of young Turks and old racial scores, wants to slog through some translator’s mangling of Lucretius, after all?

So say the intelligentsia of GQ, whose memory apparently extends no further than 1960. Besides Marx, most anything before then is “problematic.” But a look at the books the magazine disdains—and the replacements they recommend—betrays the lacunae in their postmodernist script.

“We’ve been told all our lives that we can only call ourselves well-read once we’ve read the Great Books. We tried.” Thus opens the latest salvo in the ongoing Dresdenization of history. “We got halfway through the SparkNotes on Finnegans Wake,” it continues, in a literary proclamation that appears to be the work of a lazy eighth grader.

I say if we’re going to excise anything from our culture, then let it be SparkNotes.

A similar lack of depth plagues their critiques. Among the first is Catcher in the Rye. When forced to read this strange little book in high school, I proclaimed to my English class that all Holden Caulfield needed was a good punch in the face. But I cannot deny that it was a powerful read. Dorothy Stratchey, on the other hand, says, “I have never been able to fathom why Catcher in the Rye is such a canonical novel…. Now, looking back, I find that it is without any literary merit.” Appealing to her own authority, she has no need of evidence.

She goes on to detail, likewise without evidence, what “ought” to replace it: Olivia, the tale of an aseptic Sappho and the female teacher for whom she lusts. No one ever “takes a wrong step,” says Stratchey, but “there are signs for those who know how to read them.” (I was told this list would extirpate the “boring” elements from literature.) A story in which, apparently, nothing happens might be the most boring plot idea of all time.

Ernest Hemingway is next to ascend the pillory. Specifically, author Jeff VanderMeer goes after The Old Man and the Sea. It probably shouldn’t surprise us that Hemingway, who said “[t]here are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games,” might not be especially popular anymore. His ethic of manhood is a little too macho for the soy boys of today. Though it might seem that guys raised on video games would appreciate the simplicity and heroism in Hemingway, Mr. VanderMeer reports that he, at least, “kept hoping the fish would get away without too much damage.” Perhaps this is not the man we should consult for books about fishing.

Forswear all that brooding on shotguns and whiskey, VanderMeer says; instead, read Tove Jansson, whose “heartwarming,” “beautiful and humane” “series of vignettes about a grandmother and granddaughter living on a remote Finnish island” “teaches us what it is to be in sync with the world.”

I’m guessing the two women get their food not from the sea, but from the local grocery store. They’re certainly not hunting. That’d hardly be heartwarming. In this enlightened age, hunting is not a career, but rather the pastime of wealthy sociopaths. Never mind any notions of metaphorical hunting—VanderMeer is throwing down his rod and laying down the law: “Thou shalt only read ‘beautiful’ and ‘humane’ books,” commands the man afraid to fish.

It goes on in much the same tone. Most of the commentary is predictably puerile. That is, until GQ decides in its infinite bibliophilia that we need no longer worry about reading the Bible.

One of the bestselling books in human history, the Bible is everywhere—there’s hardly a troglodyte left who hasn’t at least been handed one by a passing Gideon. Even in post-Christian society, Biblical notions of equality, of altruism, of individual value, all survive. But GQ is content to say glibly, “Those who have read [the Bible] know that there are some good parts, but overall it is certainly not the finest thing that humanity has ever produced.” “Foolish” and “ill-intentioned” are among their choicest epithets. Fortunately, the faithful have withstood spinier barbs from wilier detractors than these.

This becomes especially comforting when we learn what’s to replace the Bible: The Notebook, by Ágota Kristóf. I know what you’re thinking: even Christopher Hitchens at his drunkest and snarkiest could never have denied the Bible’s influence. GQ cannot be suggesting The Notebook serve in its stead, can they? For the sake of civilization, let’s hope not. Quoted in a Guardian review of Kristóf’s book are these lines:

“Don’t move. Keep sleeping.”

“We want to urinate. We have to go.”

“Don’t go. Do it here.”

We ask: “Where?”

He says: “On me. Yes. Don’t be afraid. Piss! On my face.”

We do it, then we go out into the garden, because the bed is all wet.

I know a golden calf when I see one.

Also among the condemned is J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, which, in addition to inspiring a large portion of Led Zeppelin’s discography and a large portion of fantasy writing since then (George R. R. Martin, anyone?), has since the 1950s given awkward middle-schoolers the means to be part-time heroes. GQ complains that Tolkien was too focused on filling in his fantasy world—too much nerdiness and not enough urinating, I suppose.

Joseph Heller’s military satire Catch-22, by the standards of the quarterly gentlemen, “fails to capture the absurdities and impossible conflicts of war.” This despite the fact that the English expression for “absurd, impossible conflict” is “catch-22.”

Slaughterhouse-Five contains no female diversity hires, and so likewise fails to pass muster. “When men on dating apps list a book, they invariably list Slaughterhouse-Five.” This is intended as an indictment, but author Nadja Spiegelman speaks too soon: the problem more probably lies not with literature, but with her dating app. If she were still allowed to read the Bible, she might have known to remove the beam from her own eye first.

On and on the list goes, itself a slaughterhouse of familiar names and titles from high school and college, the resulting carcass to be replaced with a tofu Oprah wielding a “humane,” “beautiful,” and utterly lifeless book list. No feelings get hurt when no feelings are felt.

Magazines like GQ cater to surface trends. That’s where they exist, so they can hardly do anything else if they like paychecks. Their readers were never going to enjoy the classics, except as long as enjoying them—or saying you enjoyed them—was required in rarefied circles. But today, it seems, a condemnation of classic Western literature (imperialist edifice!) is the password for the novus homo entering the “élite.”

But where, for example, did we get the idea that everyone is equal? If you don’t believe history begins with Martin Luther King, Jr., you know the religious roots of “equality” as a concept. The Christian origin of civil rights leaves its imprimatur even in Dr. King’s first two names: without Martin Luther, the good Doctor is merely another King.

The great works survive because each successive generation finds in them something to revere. The fact that GQ thinks we’d be better off without them is not evidence of modern wisdom and ancient idiocy. Rather, it shows a naïve self-confidence, like a teenage emperor.

The good news is that we’ve weathered bad emperors before. But one bad emperor after another, and the canon, stripped of defenses, cannot anon stop illiterate hordes from crossing the Rhine to reap an intellectual harvest they did not sow. We’re happy to strip-mine history in the name of profits—but imagine if we had to throw out not only our ancestors’ cultural ideas, but their technological innovations as well? It would be insanity to suggest that because the Kendrick Lamar of the age gets the paycheck and the Pulitzer, the Van Gogh of the age is worth nothing.

There are Van Goghs out there today, panhandling for art supplies while Kendrick Lamar drowns in dollars. And this gives me hope. For while the sensitive editors of Girlyman’s Monthly will no doubt perish, those who speak truth will remain relevant when every 2018 fad has long passed—they will, in other words, endure. Thus, I prophesy with confidence that the 21 books castigated in the increasingly unread pages of GQ will withstand these slings and arrows. Future generations will thank us for not kowtowing to this week’s Ministry of Truth.

In the 21st century, reading books is an act of cultural warfare. Read on, therefore, that our achievements might not perish under the clubs of the ignorant. There will come a day when we realize the true value of what they’ve tried to destroy, and those of us who still draw wisdom from the ancients will be relevant again.

S. Patrick Cunningham is the editor-in-chief of The Constitute Voice, dedicated to promoting free thought, radical honesty, and common sense in politics and in culture. He also writes under the pen name Socrates the Younger.

Read more at The American Conservative